I came along at a time when a high school education was still sufficient to get you just about any job you wanted. It got me my dream job: hawking papers outside the Grady Hotel on Peachtree. I met a fine cross section of humanity doing that, and it led to my writing gig with the Journal. While I now have a couple of honorary doctorates from regional universities, I never finished school and have no more than a tenth grade education. Pretty good, eh?
In all my years of covering the mean streets of Atlanta, there were few stories greater than the rise of David Cairo in the late-90s. Cairo had a couple of degrees but mostly in English and writing. Nothing to indicate where he was going to build his fortune. Turns out, it’s pretty easy to set up a website. Anyone can do it and look legitimate. These days most of the work is done already and all anyone needs to do is plug in the content. In the early-90s, no one knew that. Cairo learned enough HTML at just the right time to get Bickering Plummet’s attention and realized the potential in it for generating income. It was a simple matter of perfect timing.
People in the business establishment used to refer to Cairo as “the Egyptian” even though he’s not Middle Eastern and anyone from Georgia knows we don’t pronounce his name like the Egyptian city. I asked him once how an English major ended up running a high tech firm and he told me he was just as surprised. I think what amazed people the most was that he succeeded. Cairo gambled and won. He was right.
It was the one outcome he was least prepared to handle.